Xander Bogaerts is the most exciting fresh face in Boston, but the Red Sox have an embarrassment of riches, and so we turn to our other top-prospect-turning-starter: Jackie Bradley Jr.
If 2014 was expected to be Xander's year, there was some expectation that 2013 would be Bradley's, particularly with Boston's chances to contend unclear at the beginning of the year. Amusingly enough, Bradley actually emerged as one of the team's greatest hopes in spring training, going on an insane tear that led to him breaking camp with the team. But even as the Red Sox rose to the top of the league, Bradley faltered. It turns out that April and March are not terribly similar, particularly for a player who hadn't even stepped foot outside of Double-A.
The question is: how much do those early poor performances count against Bradley heading into 2014? Honestly, they probably shouldn't at all. Bradley was not supposed to debut in April 2013. It was the misguided expectations of a slightly desperate fanbase that made his struggles anything other than the obvious outcome for a player thrust into the majors just 61 games from his time in High-A Salem. That Bradley had a strong season in Triple-A and even showed some progress in brief stints back in Boston should leave his 2013 season a success.
Even if we were to forget about that major league stumble, however, Bradley is still just a rookie. A not-yet-24 year old with huge shoes to fill. And for all that he has talent, expectations can only get so high while staying reasonable. Are we Red Sox fans a reasonable bunch? Well, you tell me...
Just a quick note: please, for the love of all that is good, submit your responses with proper formatting. All that means is AVG, OBP, and SLG should be .### (note the decimal point), not just ###. You'd be surprised at how much grief that can save.